PARTS of Newton Aycliffe have been branded “no go zones” after anti-social behaviour has blighted the town – leaving some residents too scared to go out after dark and others becoming the victim of vandalism, aggression and repeat offending.

Despite the action of councillors and police officers conducting regular patrols on the streets of the town, the persistent anti-social behaviour hasn’t stopped and some living within Newton Aycliffe are worried that it may lead to people “taking matters into their own hands”, according to those that live in problemed areas.

After being alerted to the anti-social behaviour issues within Newton Aycliffe by concerned homeowners, The Northern Echo has put together a special report to document the problems that some are having, highlighting the work the police and council officials are doing to stem the tide of anti-social behaviour and getting a first-hand insight into what people are going through on a day-to-day basis.

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David Wilson, who lives in Newton Aycliffe, has witnessed daily “mayhem” from teenagers in the town centre part of Aycliffe – with assault, abuse and vandalism becoming features of the area, according to the concerned resident.

Mr Wilson, who has called the town centre a “no go area” has claimed that the police “aren’t interested” in tackling any form of crime that the large gangs of youths commit.

He told The Northern Echo: “There are hundreds of reports that the town centre in Newton Aycliffe has become a virtual ‘no-go’ area to residents due to a large gang of youths causing mayhem and the lack of police interest.

The Northern Echo: Newton Aycliffe town centre. Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT.Newton Aycliffe town centre. Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT.

“People have been assaulted and abused, damage caused to property and vehicles. Residents are talking about taking the law into their own hands and absolutely no sign of Durham Police to be seen to deal with this problem that has been going on for months.” 

After contacting numerous residents that regularly use the town centre in Newton Aycliffe, it seems that Mr Wilson’s claims are founded.

One shopper, who goes into Newton Aycliffe three times a week, and wishes to remain anonymous, told The Northern Echo: “I’m so shocked every time I pop into town – a few weeks ago, I witnessed a gang of seven or eight teenagers in Tesco being disrespectful towards the security guard.

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“They were throwing items at him and shouting racist remarks towards him. They were also targeting shoppers trying to mind their own business.”

Despite several first-hand accounts about anti-social behaviour, and the claims that police are doing “very little”, neighbourhood inspector of Newton Aycliffe, Sarah Honeyman, has set out what is been done locally .

After securing several high-profile Criminal Behaviour Orders since the start of 2022, the police boss is keen to continue the achievements of the local policing unit and has called on residents to have faith within the emergency services to make a difference.

The Northern Echo: A local shop is boarded up after the window was put through recently. Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT.A local shop is boarded up after the window was put through recently. Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT.

She said: “We continue to work with our partners to implement measures including the addition of CCTV which has already proved effective.

“We have recently acquired Criminal Behaviour Orders through the court for the main ASB causers and will continue to deal robustly with those whose actions adversely affect the quality of life of our residents."

When contacted about the persistent issues in Newton Aycliffe town centre, Durham Police made clear that there were numerous bits of “undercover work” that members of the public won’t get to see, due to the risk of jeopardising active investigations.

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However, it did confirm that anti-social behaviour had fallen by 15 per cent compared to at this time last year, while also noting that the use of CCTV cameras has bolstered their response to low-level crime.

A spokesperson for Durham Police said: “The Neighbourhood Team have been working very hard with the County Councillors of Newton Aycliffe to obtain funding for rapid deployment CCTV cameras on the back of a successful trial in the Western Area. 

“We hope, with councillor support, that we will be able to purchase two cameras that can be used in areas seeing a sudden rise in ASB to provide us with the evidence we need to identify those responsible and robustly deal with them.”

The Northern Echo: Youths launching snow, ice and rocks at cars from a bridge in Newton Aycliffe over Christmas. Picture: NORTHERN ECHO.Youths launching snow, ice and rocks at cars from a bridge in Newton Aycliffe over Christmas. Picture: NORTHERN ECHO.

Sandra Haigh, Town Mayor of Great Aycliffe, has confirmed the partnership between the local authority and local police officers, but can’t pinpoint the cause of the anti-social behaviour.

Speaking to The Northern Echo, Mrs Haigh claims that there has always been “an undercurrent” of trouble that has been dealt with in Newton Aycliffe, but she has called this new wave of crime “a developing problem”.

She said: “We’ve put CCTV in certain areas of the town to see if this can alter the outcome – it’s shown that a 15 per cent reduction can happen, but there are limitations to our resources and the results we can get from the cameras.

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“There’s always been a little bit of trouble here and there – but it was often just one naughty kid, like you get anywhere. But the high-level of violence and vandalism seen over the last few months is unacceptable. This isn’t just one kid, it’s bullying, persistent and horrible.

“We have beautiful parks and great leisure facilities; the kids have plenty to do. This kind of anti-social behaviour can be pinpointed to youths having little to do, but that’s not the case in Newton Aycliffe.

Despite the claims from the police force and the council, this has come as little comfort to those that have been the victim of anti-social behaviour, according to one resident who has endured “months of hell”.

The Northern Echo: Even Newton Aycliffe Town Centre shopping centre has been the target of vandals over the last two weeks. Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT.Even Newton Aycliffe Town Centre shopping centre has been the target of vandals over the last two weeks. Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT.

Rachel Caulkin only moved to Newton Aycliffe last September, but in that time, has already faced persistent anti-social behaviour, which includes items being thrown at her three-year-old child.

The mum has become so upset by the “targeted attacks” that she set up a petition at the end of last year that sought to make a difference. After just 12 hours of putting it up, it reached the required signatures to be heard on a regional level, but it was eventually taken down by the police, due to them having ongoing investigations against several problemed individuals.

She said: “If I had known the level of anti-social behaviour there was around Newton Aycliffe, I’d have never moved here. It’s constant.

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“Me and my family have been targeted, my neighbours have had their cars smashed and young kids throw rocks at cars from the bridge nearby – it’s sometimes a war zone.”

After one bad incident, Rachel recalls a ‘gang fight’ of up to 20 teenagers, some armed with crowbars, starting a fight outside her house.

What's coming up?

Over the coming days, The Northern Echo will be continuing the special report into the anti-social behaviour issues in Newton Aycliffe, speaking to police officers, district councillors and the police and crime commissioner for Durham, Joy Allen, to gain more of an insight on whether this can be controlled or whether it’s a spiralling issue that’s too much for even the police.


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